Will Latino Population Growth Translate to Political Power?

From Texas through the Deep South of the United States, the recent census numbers and the revelation that our community has drastically grown has been a wake up call to many sectors here in the United States, from media to politics.

A recent Pew Hispanic Center report tells us that more than 6.6 million Latinos voted in the 2010 elections, signifying a large shift as a younger generation of U.S. Hispanics reaches the legal voting age. "A lot of that growth is driven by U.S.-born young people who are coming of age and now (are) eligible to vote," said Mark Lopez, Pew Hispanic Center associate director.

But even though more of us voted than ever before in the 2010 elections, it's not all good news. In 2010, 16.3% of the nation's population was Latino, but fewer than 7% of voters were Latino.

Nonetheless, both the Republican and the Democratic parties are going to have to take the Latino population very seriously when it comes to the redistricting happening right now in response to the census results as well as in the future for the 2012 presidential elections.

Texas—the state which saw the greatest growth in population and has thus been allocated an additional four senate seats—is home to a huge Latino population that has remained relatively voiceless over the years. But not any more, at least that is what Texas Latinos, who made up two-thirds of the states population growth since 2000, are hoping.

"Over the next three decades, Texas, like California, is going to become majority Hispanic," Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas tells the LA Times. "Really, it's a question - even if turnout among Hispanics is low now, it's not always going to be low. How do you want them to be thinking of you as they close the curtain of the voting booth?"